13 Jun 2017

Everykey -- the $1 million startup failure

Back in 2014, I pledged $50 to Everykey's Kickstarter, believing in their promise to deliver a wristband (or key dongle) that would automatically unlock my computer, phone, house, or whatever I wanted using bluetooth.

The product, in other words, would "let me be me" instead of forcing me to remember pesky passwords, keys, fingerprints, etc.

Just look at their video (try to avoid the CEO's demon eyes)

Even better, they got John McAfee (this guy) to come aboard as their spokesperson:

I ordered a single dongle/wristband for Windows and waited... and waited... and waited.

Then I bought a Mac, so I asked to get an OSX version instead.

Then I waited... and waited... and WAIT! A package!

Whoops, bad news. They labeled the package as "merchandise" so I had to pay €25 to pick up the reward I got for backing their project, which really pissed me off. (Kickstarter backers are NOT buying merchandise, but giving financial support to a project that may succeed or fail.)

I asked the folks at Everykey to refund the customs charges and change their shipping labels, but no such luck. So their EU backers are going to be paying €extra to pick up packages* that don't even work.

Wait. What?

Yes, the version of Everykey I received does not work. I know this for two reasons. The first is that  they shipped me a Windows version (they are still not shipping OSX), and many people are already complaining about the product/app/software not working. (There are over 1,550 comments -- mostly complaining about delays and failures -- on their Kickstarter.)

The second is that I sold my Everykey to a security developer who wanted to check it out.

Here's what he told me after he had time to test the unit:
As expected, it doesn't work, neither on Windows 10 nor on Android.
On Android, it pairs successfully but the app can't unlock the phone (it says it's still not compatible with Android 7).
On Windows, the App SEEMS fake, it systematically crashes !
I dismounted the Everykey device and discovered that inside there is a standard Bluetooth low energy chip without a co-processor for security.
So, actually, it is nothing more than an iBeacon and it can never guarantee real security .. :)
If you google "Everykey reviews" you get the naive, the bot, the actual security expert, and those worried about McAfee.

Bottom Line: Everykey has shitty customer service (broken delivery promises, waste your money for no reason), a non-functioning and/or insecure product, and no future. Avoid them** at all costs.

* Shipping policy: "In addition, it is the sole responsibility of the receiving customer to pay any import duties, taxes, or brokerage fees due at the time of delivery. Packing slips for international shipments cannot be labeled as a gift."

** Founders Christopher Wentz and CiCi Qian are not listed on their website, but they are mentioned in articles. Be careful about supporting ANYTHING they ever do.